The National – Friday, June 24, 2011
By FRANK SENGE KOLMA
PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare is recovering and should leave intensive care next week but returning to work is not an option at the moment.
This is the word from the Somare family who were represented at a media conference yesterday by Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare.
A decision on the chief’s future in public life will be discussed by the
six members of Sir Michael’s immediate family with him before an announcement is made next week, Somare said.
He thanked Papua New Guineans for their prayers and their understanding and apologised for taking so long
to talk about the Grand Chief’s condition.
“I wish to talk about my old man’s health,” he said.
“It is 10 weeks since he has gone into operation. It has been a challenging period for myself and my family.
“At this time, there is great uncertainty for his recovery.
“In the last four to five weeks, he has been in ICU (intensive care unit).
“Next week, we hope he’s out.
“We are hopeful that he recovers that he is given time to recover in his own time without pressure.
“There are certain decisions that the family will take as to the direction our father takes.”
That decision will be announced next week, Somare promised, after the family has consulted with Sir Michael.
Somare dwelt at length on the nature of Sir Michael’s prolonged illness.
Sir Michael developed a problem with his aortic valve in his heart which his son claimed was exacerbated by the pressures he underwent during his recent leadership tribunal appearances.
He collapsed at one stage during the tribunal suffering shortness of breath.
The first operation at Singapore’s Raffles Hospital to replace the valve went okay but, at 76 years of age, other organs in his body started malfunctioning which included his kidney and lungs. This necessitated two secondary corrective surgeries but the kidney did not kick into gear as early as it should have.
A fungal infection of his blood also added to the number of problems that needed attention.
Somare said it was during two corrective surgeries that the family “was quite concerned” they might lose him.
“That is over now and the kidney is functioning and his health is stabilising,” Somare said.
He said visits had been ruled out by the family to protect the dignity of the chief.
In the minds of many Papua New Guineans, he is the champion who has brought PNG to government and the family did not want him to be seen on a hospital bed with tubes sticking out of him.
They have also wanted him to recover in peace without having the pressure of having to make political decisions.
The Somare family comprised Lady Veronica, daughters Betha and Dulcie and sons Sana, Arthur, and Michael Junior.
All of them have taken turns to be at the chief’s side since he was hospitalised with Lady Veronica being a permanent fixture at her husband’s bed side, her son yesterday said she might as well be part of the Raffles Hospital furniture.
All six would meet next week in Singapore with Sir Michael and decide on his future before an announcement is made.